We help non-technical founders
build Million Dollar MVPs.

Validate your offer in 1 week,
launch a functional product in 4 weeks,
and reach a $1M valuation in your first 6 months.

Over 20 startups and $650M in funding supported.
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Wellness 4 Humanity - COVID vending machines launched in 12 weeks.

Before

  • Upcoming deadlines w/ partners but stalled progress.
  • Overseas developers unable to deliver on promises.
  • Clinics suffering from growing pains.

After

  • COVID vending machines launched at international airports.
  • Clinic management system released, reducing workload.
  • Booking system launched, improving checkout speed.

Quote

“James and his team stepped in at a critical moment in Wellness 4 Humanity's trajectory and delivered exactly what we needed to hit our deadlines and expand the public's access to quick and easy COVID testing.

Without them, the launches of our national vending machine network and our flagship New York clinic would not have been the successes they were.”

Lian Pham

Founder - Wellness 4 Humanity

Timeline

12 weeks.

Site

Wellness 4 Humanity

Self Portrait Project - From 3 years of no progress to hardware prototype in just 1 Week.

Before

  • Three years spent with existing design agency and not a single line of code written.
  • Existing designs were incomplete—if built, the app wouldn't function.
  • App involved hardware product and needed a prototype for investor demos.

After

  • App launched to App Store - Currently 4.8 stars.
  • Hardware prototype delivered in two weeks.
  • Over 850K photographs captured to date.

Quote

“After three years of other agencies promising a lot but delivering little, getting to test a prototype after just week was very cool.

From the first time we sat down, I really felt SANE got what I was trying to do.”

Andy Lin

Founder - The Self Portrait Project

Timeline

Prototype: 2 weeks, Development: 4 months.

Site

The Self Portrait Project

Knowhere - Turning around 6 months of wasted develolpment time in 2 Weeks.

Before

  • 6 months and $100K spent with another development firm.
  • Core feature (location sharing) DID NOT WORK.
  • App drained a full user battery in hours.

After

  • App launched to App Store - Currently 5 stars.
  • Location sharing fixed.
  • Battery issue resolved.

Quote

“After an entire year of working with another firm, our app just did not work—the core feature was broken and the app drained the battery.

James was able to research the problem and find a workable solution in a matter of weeks.”

Lachie Given

Founder - Knowhere

Timeline

PoC & Roadmap - 2 weeks, Solution Development - 4 weeks, Ongoing Support - 1.5 years.

Site

Knowhere

Start building your
Million Dollar MVP today.

What makes a Million Dollar Startup?

If you want to build, launch, and grow your company to $1M and beyond, a “great idea” isn’t enough.

It takes a capable founding team months to turn their vision into an actual product, take that product to customers, and reach the traction goals necessary to earn those valuations.

Reaching those goals in 6 months? That takes a rockstar founder or founding team leading a killer execution team.

Do you have what it takes to hit those metrics in that timeframe?

Are you a Million Dollar Founder?

Even with a perfect execution team executing perfectly, a startup is only as valuable as the Vision that backs it.

And that Vision is only as valuable as its Founders.

Do you have what it takes to hit a $1M+ valuation in the next 6 months?

  • Do you have an idea for an ambitious startup?
  • Is that idea big enough to hit a $1M+ valuation this year?
  • Are you willing to put in the work to hit that $1M valuation?
  • Are you tired of spinning your wheels, and ready to launch in the next 4 weeks?

Because if you:

  • Aren’t willing to get your hands dirty.
  • Aren’t willing to take risks.
  • Are only interested in hiring technical partners based on how cheap they are.

Then you’re not going to hit those numbers in 6 months. Or maybe ever.

Can you hit a $1M+ valuation?

Our core concept is this:

Non-technical founders like you don’t fail because your idea isn’t ambitious enough, because you don’t know how to run a business, how to talk to customers, or how to sell your product.

You fail because you over-invest in bringing your MVP to market, work with partners that can’t deliver that MVP effectively and efficiently, and reach launch with no traction, no money to improve your product, and no way to raise more funds.

How do I know this?

Because I’ve spent the last ten years obsessing about how to help non-technical founders build and launch their MVPs.

I’m James Knight, Founder and Chief Nerd of No Nerds No Problem.

I’ve earned my Nerd stripes: I have an undergraduate degree in Mathematics, studied for my Masters in Computer Science at Georgia Tech, and started my career in robotics at Romotive (now Zipline).

Since leaving Google in 2015 and starting my startup consulting agency, I’ve grown this company to 10+ nerds across 4 different countries, been featured in Bloomberg, and have helped more than 25 companies launch their MVPs and raise a combined $650M in fundraising.

And I’m going to show you how to do the same.

Schedule a call and start building your
Million Dollar MVP today.

What makes a Million Dollar MVP?

The Minimum-Viable Product, or MVP, is a concept popularized by Eric Ries in his 2011 book Lean Startup. While popular usage of the term has changed a bit from Eric’s original meaning, the core concept remains the same: the MVP is the minimum level of work-product that we can test in the marketplace.

Building and launching an MVP is one of the first activities a new startup completes.

If You Build It, (Maybe) They Will Come

On its way to the marketplace, an MVP goes through three distinct stages:

  1. Idea: Everything from initial idea until implementation begins. Includes market research, customer discovery, and solution exploration.
  2. Build: The meat of the process. Technical partners take the concepts outlined during Idea and design, develop, test, and prepare them for launch.
  3. Launch: Once implementation is complete, the product is prepared for release and brought to the marketplace.

Many first-time founders view this initial launch as a terminal point in their process. They believe in the strength of their vision and view the implementation process as the only barrier to realizing that vision. Once built, they have zero doubts that their MVP will be a runaway success, and expect their growth

In reality, early stage startups typically experience slow initial growth, before trending sharply upward after months (or even years). This model is often referred to as “Hockey Stick Growth”.

The Holy Hockey Stick & Product-Market Fit

hockey-stick

In the Hockey Stick model, a startup sees little to no traction in its early months or years, before hitting their “inflection point” and trending upwards into an exponential growth curve. In this model, a startup’s inflection point is reached once it finds “Product-Market Fit” (PMF), what Marc Andreesen describes as “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

Founders often overestimate their ability to identify Product-Market Fit before they’ve launched. They assume that if they can bring their MVP to market, everything will just work out. But amongst companies that had successfully raised fundraising, the number one reason for failure was because there was “No Market Need” for their product.

This overconfidence leads many first-time founders to over-invest in their first launch, spending too much time and money obsessing over their “perfect” product, only to find that the market’s interest in that product wasn’t what they’d hoped.

When the big day comes, they hit the red button, kick their feet up, and prepare watch their valuation to climb to $1M and beyond. But that growth never comes. After months—or even years—of work, their MVP is met with little to no market response.

In reality, it often takes startups months or even years of work to find the fabled “Product-Market Fit”. For non-technical founders, this delay is especially problematic: the longer your startup takes to find traction, the longer you have to support that search. Supporting a few months of development is one thing, but keeping an entire team paid for six months to a year is difficult even for the ultra-wealthy.

It’s common for founders to think that they’ll be different—that those other startups failed because they didn’t have what it takes. But $1B+ failures like Quibi show us that these mistakes aren’t just made by the unprepared or underfunded.

Why Big Launches Fail

adoption

In 1962, Everett Rogers published a book called Diffusion of Innovations, describing how new ideas spread across cultures and populations. In that book, he identified 5 categories of people that each approach new ideas in different ways:

  1. Innovators: those who love trying new things and may even be the people encouraging others to explore a new idea.
  2. Early Adopters: those comfortable taking risks, but want to form a solid opinion of the new idea before they vocally support it.
  3. Early Majority: those interested in new ideas, but want proof of its effectiveness.
  4. Late Majority: those who do not like to take risks, and they tend to question the need for changes.
  5. Laggards: those who prefer the status quo because they know what to expect.

These different approaches to new ideas effect the way people view new products, and the kinds of products each are interested in. A product that’s interesting to an Innovator is viewed as too risky by the Early Majority. And a safe offering that might be interesting to the Late Majority is going to be completely ignored by the Innovators and Early Adopters.

New products don’t have access to the entire curve at once. They can’t, because the different parts of the curve aren’t interested in the same kinds of products. This is why Clubhouse is where the tech hipsters chat about Artificial Intelligence and Facebook is where your Aunt Tina posts videos about chemtrails.

And it explains why Quibi failed: they invested so much that the product had to reach the mass-market to be considered a financial success, but introduced a new product category that the Early and Late Majority weren’t interested in.

Launching early and focusing on Innovators and Early Adopters allows you to target the part of the curve most likely to be accepting of your product. It gives you a chance to see immediate traction with a small but interested group of customers. Over time, as we improve our product, we gain access to larger and larger parts of the curve. This, in turn increases our rate of growth, and speeds us towards Hockey Stick Growth.

The Product Development Cycle

Product Development Cycle Finding true Product-Market Fit is a process, one that starts with launch and continues through a cycle of iterations and improvements as our product gets closer and closer to finding fit.

But thinking of this process as a cycle isn’t enough. While many founders are familiar with this concept from “Lean Startup”, few actually practice it. And that can mean disaster for the non-technical founder.

If 2020 showed us anything, a lot can happen in a year. For the non-technical founder to be successful, they have to keep these cycles as efficient as possible.

That doesn’t mean we have to be as cheap as possible, or move through these loops as quickly as we can. Cost is just one part of efficiency: the other part is value.

Our goal with each loop through the cycle is to produce the greatest amount of value while spending the least amount of time and money.

If we prioritize what’s most important to our customers, we can make it through each loop providing new value, getting closer to Product-Market Fit, and increasing our chances of survival long term.

Finding The True Hockey Stick

True Hockey Stick

If Product-Market fit isn’t binary, what does true Hockey Stick Growth look like?

The final stage of the Hockey Stick model is characterized by “rapid” or “surging” growth. After our inflection point, our curve begins to bend sharply upward.

For a curve to get steeper over time, it has to be “accelerating”. In math terms, that means that it’s second derivative must be positive or increasing. That means that our growth, or the “velocity” at which our metrics change, is itself changing.

In startups, our growth rate naturally increases as we achieve Product-Market Fit. With each successive improvement to our product and to how we sell that product, our curve gets a little bit steeper. Over time that curve starts to look like the one above.

In reality, the inflection “point” of the Hockey Stick model is more of an inflection “process”: with each successive launch, we improve our Product-Market Fit, increasing our growth rate and opening up larger and larger portions of the market as we go.

The Value of Launching Early and Often

Prioritizing launch over “perfection” means reaching our first customers in weeks, not months. That means less upfront investment, less exposure to risk, and less time waiting to show traction.

That’s time and money we can use to iterate through our inflection point, finding early Product-Market Fit and kickstarting our Hockey Stick growth.

It’s a playbook any non-technical founder can follow.

On paper, it’s simple enough: define your MVP, find technical partners and have them prepare to build it, then build, launch, and iterate towards Product-Market Fit.

Let’s show you how that’s done.

Ready to get started?
Schedule a call and start building your
Million Dollar MVP today.

The Million Dollar Playbook

Define Your MVP

Identify your customers, investigate their problems, and explore your solution.

Old Way - Discovery & Exploration

  • Work off of guesses, hunches, and assumptions.
  • Choose niche by avoiding competition without investigating first.
  • Interview customers yourself, seeing if they like your solution.

New Way - Design Sprints

  • Get real feedback from real customers in just 1 week.
  • Investigate actual customer problems and define your solution based on those problems.
  • Interview customers with a working prototype, getting real feedback on your actual product.

Old Results

  • Work off of guesses, hunches, and assumptions.
  • Choose niche by avoiding competition without investigating first.
  • Ask potential customers if they like your solution without actually selling anything.

New Results

  • Get real feedback from real customers in just 1 week.
  • Investigate actual customer problems and define your solution based on those problems.
  • Interview customers with a working prototype, getting real feedback on your actual product.

Short circuit the product cycle with a Design Sprint.

The Design Sprint is a process developed at Google Ventures designed to give teams a shortcut to testing Product-Market Fit without investing in building and launching. It's a way to test the core value hypothesis of your business before you spend tens of thousands of dollars and months of time designing and developing your product.

On top of that, the Sprint is a structured process for getting the Founder's vision out of their heads and into a format for technical partners to execute on. Nobody knows your business like you do, but your product team can't make that vision a reality unless you bring them up to speed.

While it's great to have expert help, the Sprint is a process you can follow yourself: in addition to the Sprint book, GV provides resources on their page as well. With the explosion of prototyping tools like Figma and Marvel, as well as no code solutions like Bubble, non-technical founders can now build their own prototypes without needing to involve designers or developers.

All projects here at No Nerds No Problems start with a Design Sprint as part of our 2-week Product Sprint offering.

Book a call today and take your prototype to customers
in just 1 week.

Roadmap Your MVP

Take your MVP to technical partners to plan and estimate.

Old Way - The Proposal

  • Design partners create fancy designs based on your description of your product.
  • Development partners provide estimates based on those designs.
  • Full timelines and estimates provided without any up-front research or design.

New Way - Project Roadmapping

  • Designers & developers work together to produce product, design, and technical documents that inform estimates.
  • Designers provide developer-approved designs for the first 4-12 weeks of the project.
  • Developers detail each and every task necessary to build those designs.

Old Results

  • Timelines & estimates are wildly inaccurate—your project goes over budget, off-schedule, and fails to hit your goals.
  • Development estimates are produced as quickly as possible, focused more on closing the sale than providing an accurate timeline.
  • Designs are incomplete or impossible to build, based solely on what looks good.

New Results

  • Timelines & estimates are accurate, and commited to by your technical partners.
  • Developers identify potential risks and roadblocks before they start building.
  • Designs are ready-for-development, allowing engineers to start building from Day 1.

Get an accurate timeline & estimate with Project Roadmapping.

The traditional Proposal process is broken. Design & development partners are asked to provide estimates up front, without any incentive to make those estimates accurate. Engineering time is expensive—no freelancer, agency, or studio is going to spend it on a project they aren't guaranteed to close. Instead, they return figures they think will help them close the sale, get their deposit, and worry about hitting their deadlines down the road—after their non-technical partners have already invested significant amounts of time and money working with them.

Roadmapping prevents this: by investing just one week of time with a technical partner up front, you give them a chance to actually investigate the project they're working on, uncovering potential risks early and building accurate timelines and estimates. And good partners will commit to those timelines—you've invested in them, its only fair that they return the favor.

It might seem silly to spend money on an estimate, but if you don't pay for this work now, you'll still end up paying for it later. The research and planning necessary to build accurate timelines and estimates is still necessary when it comes time to actually build your MVP: either you pay for it up front, or it gets hidden in the rest of the project.

Building a Roadmap also gives you a chance to vet the technical partners you'll be working with over the course of your project. As a non-technical founder, it's incredibly difficult to gauge the skills of a technical partner up front. Roadmapping gives you a chance to actually work with that partner on a fixed, reduced scope, letting you know what it's like to work with them before you invest the next three months of your life with them.

Any technical partner worth his salt can perform a Project Roadmap. Just make sure that you have clearly defined deliverables, and commitments on the timelines and estimates produced. If they're unwilling to make those commitments, it's a good sign they're not actually taking the time to create accurate estimates in the first place.

Project Roadmaps are the focus of week two of our 2-week Product Sprint process.

Book a call today and start building your MVP in
just two weeks.

Build & Launch Your MVP

Build your MVP, take it to the marketplace, and iterate towards Product-Market Fit.

Old Way - Monolithic Teams

  • Choose between high-cost/high-value boutique, local, and expert providers, and low-cost/low-value agency, overseas, and entry level talent.
  • Hire solution or process-specific agencies, with separate design, development, and marketing teams.
  • Manage these teams yourself, or rely on expensive babysitters from account teams.

New Way - Hybrid Agile Teams

  • Mix high-value, expert, local leadership on a part-time basis with low-cost, overseas, junior and senior execution partners at full-time.
  • Build a single, multi-disciplenary team capable of handling the entire product, design, development, and launch process.
  • Work with a single, dedicated Product Owner to provide ongoing tech, product, and marketing leadership.

Old Results

  • "You get what you pay for": capable partners are expensive, cheap partners aren't capable.
  • Work product is either over budget, or delivered late, or poor quality.
  • No leadership makes tech management difficult time-intensive for you, the non-technical founder.

New Results

  • Optimize for efficiency - Pay experts for their expertise and executors for their output.
  • Deliver your product on budget, on time, and at high quality.
  • Focus on growth while letting your Product Owner handle the build process.

Build a Hybrid Agile team to launch early, often, and efficiently.

Choosing your technical partners is arguably the most important step of this process. As a non-technical founder, it's difficult to know what sorts of partners you need to get your MVP built and launched. And there's no shortage of sharks out there, happily trading your time and money for lines of code, without caring about the product that code belongs to.

Technical partners come in various degrees of skill & cost, with different areas of expertise. Choosing between high-quality but high-expense experts and low-cost but low-skill talent is a difficult tradeoff to make.

But what if you didn't have to choose? What if your team blended local, high-quality leadership with overseas, cost-effective execution? And what if that team optimized for efficiency, providing those leaders on a part-time basis while giving offloading the grunt work to junior and senior team members? And what if that team was managed by a single point-of-contact, someone with FAANG, R&D, or Unicorn-startup experience—someone who acted like a cofounder but without taking 50% of your equity?

Your execution Dream Team is based on this Hybrid model: expert product, tech, and design leadership, backed by cost-effective execution team, all managed by a dedicated Product Owner.

There are a wide range of options available to you when assembling this team: cofounders, full-time hires, freelancers, studios, and agencies. You can read more about each category of provider and the different pros and cons of each in our book.

Our team at No Nerds No Problem is built on this model.

Book a call and hire
your Dream Team today.

How we compare to other providers.

You can accomplish this yourself or with another team.

But if you wanted to get this whole process done with a technical cofounder, you’d have to give up 50% of your equity. That means that $1M valuation is really a $500K valuation for you.

If you wanted to assemble a team of freelancers and full-time hires, and get even the base level of team you need to hit these timelines and metrics, that would cost you around $100-250K over your first 3 months. There are lower budget providers out there, but there’s no way they’re getting you to a $1M valuation—or even launch—in 6 months.

There are few individuals that can handle this entire process. Those that can charge between $8-12K per week. But a single person isn’t going to be able to compete on speed: something that would take a superstar freelancer one month to build, our team can accomplish in one week.

On a weekly level, for a comparable team of skill and size, we’re 50% cheaper. And comparing our team to the costs of a lower-quality team that you would actually expect to work with at an agency, we’re 10-20% cheaper.

Million Dollar Founders

Again, we only work with founders and founding teams we think are capable of hitting $1M valuations in their first six months.

Do you have what it takes?

  • Do you have an idea for an ambitious startup?
  • Is that idea big enough to hit a $1M+ valuation this year?
  • Are you willing to put in the work to hit that $1M valuation?
  • Are you tired of spinning your wheels, and ready to launch in the next 4 weeks?

Here’s a selection of the rockstar founders we’ve worked with to date.

Our Million Dollar Clients

Wellness 4 Humanity - COVID vending machines launched in 12 weeks.

Story

Lian came to us with this already super successful business: she’d launched her first clinic just a few months before and had already expanded into three states with three more in the works. Her team was processing hundreds of tests per location, and eyeing partnerships to expand their testing services to airports and sporting events, but was beginning to feel growing pains.

We came in and identified 18 different projects in various stages of development, focusing on three:

  1. A custom booking experience for incoming customers.
  2. A clinic management system designed specifically for W4H clinics.
  3. Partner API for allowing 3rd-parties access to W4H’s patient data safely and securely.

After our first two weeks, we delivered a prototype design of the user-facing products, complete with a breakdown of the features we’d decided were the highest priority based on our conversations with W4H’s staff. This “product backlog” was the first overview of what was needed to launch the new booking experience and clinic management dashboard Lian’s team had seen. But this backlog contained only the bare minimum functionality we thought necessary—we knew that the only way to get a full picture of what each clinic needed would be to test directly with them.

client-feedback

Four weeks later, we sent our first functional release to clinic staff for onsite testing. After six months of promises from the previous development team, management was ecstatic to see something real. Initial feedback was both overwhelmingly positive and critical to moving forward: our initial prototype didn’t include a number of features that were absolutely necessary for the new system to be useful to clinic management. Without that initial feedback, we wouldn’t have been able to prioritize those features and include them in our MVP scope.

This new system was powered by the same API that we planned to offer partners, and by this point W4H had already secured their first partnership: a series of vending machines placed at 25 international airports and other high-traffic locations, capable of delivering self-administered COVID tests on demand, powered by Swyft. Our product and engineering teams worked alongside Swyft’s to integrate W4H’s systems with theirs, compressing Swyft’s usual 12-week turnaround time into a blistering 6-week delivery window, targeting the launch of W4H’s newest flagship clinic in New York City.

On February 1st, 2021, W4H unveiled their new COVID test vending machines alongside their new flagship clinic in New York City. The launch was a colossal success, with featured articles published in Forbes, the Washington Post and hundreds of other national outlets. It even caught The Tonight Show’s attention, resulting in two separate mentions in Jimmy Fallon’s weekly “Thank You Note” segment.

booking-demo

Alongside the vending machines, we launched W4H’s new booking experience and clinic dashboard, complete with the feedback received from their staff over the previous 12 weeks. The new experience was W4H-branded from top to bottom and allowed incoming patients to book multiple patients at a time, choose appointment times that fit with their schedules and select from each clinic’s available services. This streamlined purchasing flow made it easier than ever before for new patients to book appointments, improving checkout speed and reducing churn.

booking-demo

On the dashboard side, our new system allowed W4H clinics to manage the entire patient lifecycle from a single piece of software. Test results could now be added directly to patient records, cutting the time needed to send test results from 15 minutes per patient to ~30 seconds. These efficiencies reduced overall management overhead by several hours each day, saving clinic operators from long nights manually distributing test results via email.

Lian Pham

Founder - Wellness 4 Humanity

Before

  • Upcoming deadlines w/ partners but stalled progress.
  • Overseas developers unable to deliver on promises.
  • Clinics suffering from growing pains.

After

  • COVID vending machines launched at international airports.
  • Clinic management system released, reducing workload.
  • Booking system launched, improving checkout speed.

Timeline

12 weeks.

Quote

“James and his team stepped in at a critical moment in Wellness 4 Humanity's trajectory and delivered exactly what we needed to hit our deadlines and expand the public's access to quick and easy COVID testing.

Without them, the launches of our national vending machine network and our flagship New York clinic would not have been the successes they were.”

Site

Wellness 4 Humanity

Replenish - Customer-ready prototype and full Project Roadmap in 2 Weeks.

Story

Sachin is a veteran entrepreneur, clocking in 10 years as the founder and CEO of Alpine Vapors, a manufacturer and distributor of cannabis products in California. His experience in that industry is what led him to begin thinking about Replenish, a Vendor Managed Inventory system that would help brands better support their retailers.

Before coming to us, Sachin had already spent months researching the problem and exploring ways to solve it. Few founders have come to us better prepared: Sachin shared a treasure trove of research, white papers, and his own write-ups on existing solutions for other industries and ways to adapt them to Cannabis. The problem was big, and Sachin’s proposed scope matched it: a product for brands to manage their retailer’s inventory and manage communication between brand reps and their counterparts at dispensaries, a system for tracking retailer inventory across multiple locations, and an API for integrating these systems with existing software used by both parties.

After our first conversations, we proposed starting with our Product Sprint and Roadmapping process to help sort through this complexity, identify our go-to-market strategy, and scope out our initial product. Sachin was interested but wanted to make sure our offer was the best way to move forward, seeking out additional quotes from other providers. A potential joint-venture partner suggested another firm based out of Silicon Valley, and Sachin worked with them to scope out and estimate his MVP.

Sachin described this estimate as “wildly expensive”: $250K/quarter for just three developers. And what that team promised to accomplish with that $250K wasn’t impressive: after three months, the team proposed launching an API-only solution for integrating with existing software. The MVP didn’t include either of the customer-facing products Sachin wanted to build, and the go-to-market strategy for the solution they proposed was left for Sachin to figure out on his own.

Disappointed with the other team’s proposal, Sachin returned to discuss the sprint. We worked together to figure out exactly how much he wanted to spend, and come up with a rough estimate of what we thought we could deliver at that price point. We agreed that the Product Sprint was the best way to give some structure to everything he’d compiled to date, and go to work scheduling our sessions.

Sachin’s demanding schedule as CEO of Alpine Vapors meant we had to adjust our Sprint timelines. Unable to spend 4 hours at a time deep-diving for our initial sessions, we split two-week process into three.

After three weeks, Sachin had in his hands a full, clickable prototype of his initial product. He had a defined roadmap for bringing that product to life, a development estimate that fit his budget—all while delivering on his initial vision and not a stunted version of it.

Our team committed to a 4 week delivery of the initial scope, with plans in place for developing the entire vision over the course of 12 weeks. With the prototype in hand, Sachin could begin sales, lining up Letters-of-Intent from interested customers and building his initial pipeline. And if we started development the Monday after, Sachin could expect to deliver real, functioning value to his first customers just seven weeks after we started this process.

The best part? Our estimate came in at around 50% of his other offer while adding product and design leadership to his Build team. Instead of having 3 engineers working from Silicon Valley, he had a global team led be an ex-Google engineer, an ex-NASA Product Owner, a teacher from one of Europe’s premier design universities leading a team of 2 designers, and the lead engineer from the largest Credit Card company in Argentina leading a team of 4 senior software engineers.

After reviewing our estimate, Sachin gave the greenlight to begin development immediately.

Sachin Gulaya

CEO - Alpine Vapors

Before

  • Had idea for startup inspired by his experience as a cannabis CEO.
  • Spent months researching possible solutions but couldn't get started.
  • Received quote from other partners but found it "wildly expensive".

After

  • Prototype delivered ready to test with actual customers.
  • Full project roadmap, timeline, and estimate completed.
  • Quote reduced by ~50%, scope increased, timeline shortened ~1 month.

Timeline

2 weeks.

Quote

“Before we started the Sprint process, I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. Having gone through it, I can’t imagine it going any other way.

James and his team really went deep—from the first days I felt like they fully understood the problem I was trying to solve and I learned a lot about what I was trying to build. 100% worth the cost.

Site

Alpine Vapor

Self Portrait Project - From 3 years of no progress to hardware prototype in just 1 Week.

Story

Andy Lin is a rare combination of artist and entrepreneur. In 2009, Andy started the Self-Portrait Project (SPP) to empower people in the creation of their own images. What started off as an art project quickly blossomed into a business, with Andy’s signature one-way mirror photo booth turning heads at events across the country.

Looking ever forward, Andy wanted to productize the SPP experience, pairing an installed-version of the photo booth with a mobile app that could be used to control the device and share the photos taken with it. He began working on this idea, experimenting with different mirror configurations, and hiring a well-known firm to design the mobile experience.

Three years later, Andy had nothing to show but a few failed prototypes and an enormous PDF from the design agency. The designs were sexy—and their presentation from the firm even sexier—but they were functionally incomplete, missing features that were necessary to make the product work. Tired of not making progress, Andy came to us.

We started our process with 1-week Design Sprint, focused on producing a Proof-of-Concept mirror and app experience. We had big questions about the interaction between the hardware, the mobile device, and the server that helped the two communicate, and we wanted to get something in Andy’s hands to test before even discussing what the rest of the app looked like.

hardware-demo

One week later, Andy came to our New York office, bringing his signature photo booth with him. We attached a Raspberry-Pi based prototype device to the booth, and handed him a phone, telling him to use it just like the hardware clicker the booth had previously worked with.

Andy stood in front of the mirror, posed, and tapped the phone screen. The camera flashed, and the shutter clicked.

“Now what?” Andy asked.

“Look at the phone.”

There, where the camera button had just been, was the photograph Andy had just captured—relayed from his photo booth, off the Raspberry Pi, through the cloud, and right onto his phone.

“Cool.”

The next week, we started the roadmapping process. We reviewed the designs provided by Andy’s previous agency, pulling out the pieces we liked best, and reconstructed a complete–but drastically simplified—app that aligned with the Self Portrait Project’s existing brand. We gave him a timeline for delivering the core features of the app within the first 4 weeks, reaching his full vision within 12. And then we got to work.

Just a few months later, Andy had a working app in the App Store and mirrors installed across five locations in New York City. To date, SPP has captured over 850K photographs, including those of celebrities like Robert Redford and Hillary Swank, and holds a patent for their signature Photo Booth design.

Andy Lin

Founder - The Self Portrait Project

Before

  • Three years spent with existing design agency and not a single line of code written.
  • Existing designs were incomplete—if built, the app wouldn't function.
  • App involved hardware product and needed a prototype for investor demos.

After

  • App launched to App Store - Currently 4.8 stars.
  • Hardware prototype delivered in two weeks.
  • Over 850K photographs captured to date.

Timeline

Prototype: 2 weeks, Development: 4 months.

Quote

“After three years of other agencies promising a lot but delivering little, getting to test a prototype after just week was very cool.

From the first time we sat down, I really felt SANE got what I was trying to do.”

Site

The Self Portrait Project

Knowhere - Turning around 6 months of wasted develolpment time in 2 Weeks.

Story

Not all of our clients come to us before they get started: when we first met Lachie and his team they were already 6+ months into building the MVP for their product Knowhere, a privacy-centric location sharing app targeted at high profile and high net-worth individuals. The app looked beautiful, with a great design and a sexy way to interact with the app’s privacy settings—there was just one problem:

The core feature didn’t work.

Their previous team had spent 6 months of time and $100K of their money building this great app, without figuring out how to actually make the app’s core promise of seamless, in-the-background location tracking work. The solution they’d developed either couldn’t function when the app was closed, or it burnt through the battery in minutes by updating it constantly—an option which wouldn’t make it past Apple’s reviewers.

Lachie came to us looking for a solution, so we proposed a 2-week Roadmapping and R&D session, where we went through their existing work, proposed a number of possible new solutions, and rapidly built Proof-of-Concept apps for each one. After 5 rounds of experimentation, we discovered a fix after reverse engineering the protocol used by competitors like Zenly and Facebook’s Friend Finder.

From there, we spent the next 4 weeks replacing the app’s existing location features with the new Proof-of-Concept, finishing the work that should have been done before starting work on auxiliary features like Settings and Chat. Lachie and his team were ecstatic when we delivered the update—for the first time since getting started, the initial vision they’d had for their product was actually a reality.

Lachie Given

Founder - Knowhere

Before

  • 6 months and $100K spent with another development firm.
  • Core feature (location sharing) DID NOT WORK.
  • App drained a full user battery in hours.

After

  • App launched to App Store - Currently 5 stars.
  • Location sharing fixed.
  • Battery issue resolved.

Timeline

PoC & Roadmap - 2 weeks, Solution Development - 4 weeks, Ongoing Support - 1.5 years.

Quote

“After an entire year of working with another firm, our app just did not work—the core feature was broken and the app drained the battery.

James was able to research the problem and find a workable solution in a matter of weeks.”

Site

Knowhere

A Rad Corp

Story

After working with Matt and Josh on their previous app, Reveal, they came to us for help building some rapid prototypes using the cash they had left from their previous round of investment: a couple of Hail Mary attempts to find a new product that they could go raise another round with.

This project was super fun: we had a limited budget, and an extremely limited timeline of just a few weeks. We spent the first week Roadmapping with Matt & Josh, figuring out exactly what we could afford to deliver given the constraints we were under. And then we set to work.

2 weeks later, we launched #FIREFIRE, a social app for sharing emojis with friends, inspired by Hey!, reaching the front page of Product Hunt, and hitting a thousand installs in just a couple days. 2 weeks after that, we launched Hotshot Screen Recorder, a tool for capturing mobile screen recordings, annotating them, and sharing them with friends, receiving several mentions from digital outlets for our creative adoption of Facebook’s chat bubbles design for providing an on-screen recording interface.

Because of Matt & Josh’s vision and obsession with delivering value fast, we were able to launch two entirely new products in a single month—a feat that takes many founders years to achieve. And because they were able to focus on pre-sales while our team did the building, those products launched to immediate success, garnering press and 1000s of downloads in their first few days.

Matt Ivester

Founder & CEO, A Rad Corp

Before

  • Core product struggling to find traction.
  • Wanted to rapidly prototype and test two new ideas.

After

  • #FIREFIRE built and launched, hitting front page of Product Hunt.
  • Hotshot Screen Recorder built and launched.

Timeline

2 Weeks per App

Quote

“James understands what it means to work with a startup where every dollar counts.

Thanks to him, we were able to bring our products to market much faster than we could have ourselves.”

Site

Reveal

Want to be the next one on this list?
Schedule a call and start building your
Million Dollar MVP today.

How we build Million Dollar MVPs

The process for non-technical founders who want to build a Million Dollar MVP is simple:

  1. Define your MVP with Lean principles: identify the smallest product you can deliver to your users and bring that product to launch quickly and efficiently.
  2. Develop a roadmap for bringing that MVP to launch and get a timeline and estimate of what it’s going to take to deliver.
  3. Build your MVP, test your hypotheses in the market, find initial traction, iterate through your inflection point, find early Product-Market Fit and kickstart your Hockey Stick curve through your $1M valuation and beyond.

You don’t need us to do this.

But if you do work with us, here’s what’s going to happen:

  • You’re going to stop spinning your wheels, working your ass off but not making any progress.
  • You’re going to get rid of all of your assumptions, your hidden worries, the hunches and guesses.
  • You’re going to get exactly what you need to test your offer with real customers after just one week.
  • You’re going to take that offer to real people and get real feedback in your first 5 days.
  • You’re going to have an week-by-week timeline and estimate for delivering a functional product to customers within 4 weeks and your full vision in 12.
  • You’ll have an ACCURATE estimate for building your product.
  • You’ll hit the ground running with a product team you’ve worked in-depth with for two weeks.
  • You’ll deliver new customer value every week.
  • You’ll slowly check risks off as you eliminate unknowns one by one.
  • You’ll hit your traction metrics and start your way towards that $1M valuation.
  • You’ll have everything you need to build a sustainable business, or raise money and take it to the moon.

The No Nerds Process

Design Sprints

Before, when you wanted to plan your MVP, you would have to do your own exploration & discovery, run your own customer interviews, scope your MVP, and hope your intuitions about your product were right.

But now, you can go through a Product Sprint with us and get a full clickable prototype to take to customers, complete with initial OKRs and an introductory traction plan, so that you can test your idea with real people after just one week. You don’t have to risk $100s of thousands of dollars and months on your time on something that may not work.

That’s a process that would normally take you 1-3 months—it’s something we’d do in a single week.

And with that validated offer, with signups or pre-sales, you can go raise angel investment. That’s exactly what an angel investor wants to see: a founder who can validate their offer and demonstrate that if they had the money to build it, they could easily sell it. The average Angel round is now $600K at at $3-6M valuation.

Let’s be conservative, and say if you, a competent non-technical founder had a validated offer in hand, you raise $20-40K at a $200K valuation.

So after one week you’re 10% of the way to that $1M valuation.

Design Sprints at fancy firms like Design Sprint LTD or AJ & Smart cost upwards of $20K.

Ours is less than half that.

Project Roadmaps

After, when you wanted to get a detailed roadmap for delivering that MVP to customers, you’d have to trust estimates provided by external partners—estimates that are typically delivered without any upfront research or any real understanding of your project. More often than not, these estimates are constructed to come in just under your budget, focused more on closing your sale than they are on providing an accurate estimate.

Instead, you can hire us to Roadmap your project with you. We scope out your entire MVP, build out a backlog of tasks for developers to execute, finish a complete product design for them to work off of, and get an accurate timeline and estimate after just one week.

No more risking weeks of time and thousands of dollars on a team you haven’t vetted, working off an estimate that could be anywhere between 20 and 50% off.

Again, that’s a 1-3 month process boiled down to a single week. If you were to do this with another team, it would cost you anywhere between $5-20K just for the design, and another $5-20K in technical planning work—work that’s hidden inside their estimate.

With us, you’re getting that $10-40K value at around 25-50% of the cost, and you’re able to see what it’s like to work with our team without investing the next 3 months of your life.

Hybrid Agile Development

And then we’d get started developing your product.

Your dedicated Product Owner would meet with you at the start of each sprint to decide on priorities for our designers and developers, setting OKRs for each cycle. We’d spin up designers and developers as needed to execute on those priorities, optimizing for quality, speed, and efficiency.

And at the end of each cycle, we’d test and deploy your product, giving you a chance to see our work product every 1-2 weeks—with everything ready to deliver to your customers as soon as you’re comfortable.

Again, you can accomplish this yourself or with another team.

But if you wanted to get this whole process done with a technical cofounder, you’d have to give up 50% of your equity. That means that $1M valuation is really a $500K valuation for you.

If you wanted to assemble a team of freelancers and full-time hires, and get even the base level of team you need to hit these timelines and metrics, that would cost you around $100-250K over your first 3 months. There are lower budget providers out there, but there’s no way they’re getting you to a $1M valuation—or even launch—in 6 months.

There are few individuals that can handle this entire process. Those that can charge between $8-12K per week. But a single person isn’t going to be able to compete on speed: something that would take a superstar freelancer one month to build, our team can accomplish in one week.

On a weekly level, for a comparable team of skill and size, we’re 50% cheaper. And comparing our team to the costs of a lower-quality team that you would actually expect to work with at an agency, we’re 10-20% cheaper.

Our team is a value of roughly $10-20K per week if assembled elsewhere.

We charge half that.

Starting your Million Dollar MVP

All you need to do is book a call with me today.

We’re a small, focused team. Our founding team directs these projects ourselves. That means we can only onboard about 2-4 clients a month, and we’re typically booked out weeks or even months in advance.

So if you want to get started on that $1M valuation soon, make sure you book a call today.

We’re currently giving 10% off our complete, 2-week Product Sprint.

That’s 10% off everything you need to begin testing your Product-Market Fit with real customers.

All you have to do is book a call.

Our Guarantee

We back everything up with a guarantee: if you schedule a Sprint with us, if you show up and do the work, and you’re not happy with our performance after the third day, we’ll refund 100% of our fees, no questions asked.

So as a quick recap, you get:

  • Next week, a dedicated Product Owner joins your team to lead your product’s development.
  • Our Product Sprint takes you through the customer exploration and discovery process, delivering a clickable prototype of your MVP and getting you your first real customer feedback from 3-5 actual customers.
  • Our Roadmapping Session takes that MVP and turns it into a detailed timeline and estimate for getting it built and launched.
  • Our weekly Build Sprints prepare a new set of features for design, development, testing, and deployment every two weeks, delivering a functioning product at the end of each cycle.

With a 10% discount on those first two weeks if you book a call now—and you should book now, because we can only take 2-4 new clients a month.

And finally, if you’re not happy with our work after the beginning of the Sprint, we’ll refund 100% of our fees no questions asked.

Want to be the next one on this list?
Schedule a call and start building your
Million Dollar MVP today.

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